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Social Media: Privacy

Social Media Privacy

Privacy means freedom from unwanted attention--that you aren't observed or bothered by people you don't want to interact with. If you use social media, you will inevitably encounter unwanted attention, whether it's posts to your Facebook wall or comments on your tweets or Tumblr posts. These may range from merely annoying to actively threatening. Making sure your privacy settings reflect what you want from your social media experience is a crucial part of using social media enjoyably and productively. In some cases, you may decide to use certain social media platforms over others based on how well they respect your privacy. This page presents information intended to help you make these decisions and take control over your social media privacy. 

Privacy Settings For Common Social Media Platforms

Online Identification and Your Right to Privacy

You may be asked to publish your work on social networks that may make your content public. It is your right to use an alias or pseudonym so your professor can recognize your work without your real name attached to it in a searchable format or in public view.  Be sure to discuss this with your professors so that they can recognize your work. You can change your pseudonym at a later time if you feel the work would be helpful for connecting with prospective employers or other organizations.

You Have More Data Out There Than You Think

You might be surprised to learn how much data social media exposes: depending on which social media platform you're using and what  privacy settings you've selected, people you don't know may be able to identify your friends and family, discover intimate personal details, and even track your location in real time. The resources on this page discuss these issues in detail. 

TED Talks about online privacy

Click on the title above the video to change which video is streaming. 

Click on the title above the video to change which video is streaming. 

Click on the title above the video to change which video is streaming. 

Click on the title above the video to change which video is streaming. 

Key Facts About Online Privacy

Did you know?

  • 90% of adults age 18-29 use social media (PEW 2015)
  • 36% of smartphone owners use messaging apps, and 17% use apps that automatically delete sent messages (PEW 2015)
  • Facebook is still the most popular social media site, counting 72% of online adults as members (PEW 2015)
  • 52% of online adults use two or more social media apps (PEW 2014)
  • 93% of adults believe that controlling who can find information about them is important, and 90% believe it's important to control what information is available (PEW 2015)
  • Only 10% are very confident, and 24% somewhat confident, that social media sites will keep their information private and secure (PEW 2015)
  • 58% of social media users restrict access to their profile, with women more likely to choose privacy-supporting settings than men (PEW 2012)
  • Half of social media users report difficulty with changing privacy settings (PEW 2012)